Facebook India Removed 33.3 Million Harmful Content: The Never-Ending Battle [REPORT]

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Today, the world’s largest social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, are places where people can express themselves. And, in order to provide a safe platform for all of its 2 billion users, And, in order to create a platform that is safe for all of its 2 billion users, Facebook Community Standards and Instagram Community Guidelines are introduced which define what is and is not allowed in the Facebook community. Please note that Facebook and Instagram share content policies which means that if the content is considered illegal or violating on Facebook, it is also considered violating on Instagram.

Facebook has released its monthly report under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 for the period of 46 days, from 16 June 2021 to 31 July 2021.

In India, Facebook removed a total of 33.3 million harmful content pieces between 16 June and 31 July 2021. This figure was slightly higher than the 30.5 million pieces of content removed between 15 May and 15 June 2021.

It is important to note that removing a piece of content from Facebook or Instagram includes removing posts, photos, videos, and comments, as well as covering up photos or videos that may be upsetting to some audiences with a warning.

The ‘SPAM’ accounted for the majority of these takedowns, with 25.6 million content pieces removed during the 46-day period ended on July 31st, 2021. In addition, the company removed approximately 3.5 million and 2.6 million content pieces related to ‘Violent and Graphic Content’ and ‘Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity’ from its India platform, respectively.

The social media giant has also provided the ‘Proactive Rate,’ which is a metric that shows the percentage of all content or accounts acted on that Facebook found and flagged even before users do. During the 46-day period, 99.9% of all SPAM and Violent and Graphic related content or accounts on Facebook were found and flagged before the Indian users reported them.

Instagram’s Response to Harmful Content

Between 16 June and 31 July 2021, Facebook also removed approximately 2.86 million pieces of content from the Instagram India platform. Approximately 1.1 million of these harmful content pieces were classified as Violent and Graphic. The company says 99.8 percent of all such content or accounts were found and flagged before Instagram India users reported.

While Facebook’s machine learning algorithm was quite successful in automatically detecting the most kinds of violations, it fell short of identifying ‘Bullying and Harassment’ related content. The proactive rate for Bullying and Harassment content on Instagram was 64.6 percent, while it was just 42.3 percent on Facebook.

Between 16th June and 31st July, Facebook received 1,504 reports through the Indian grievance mechanism and responded to 100% of these 1,504 reports. However, in 1,326 of the 1,504 reports, Facebook provided tools to help users resolve their issues. From the remaining 178 reports requiring specialized review, Facebook reviewed content in accordance with their policies and took action on 44 reports in total. The other remaining 134 reports were reviewed but may not have been taken action on as per Facebook.

Instagram, on the other hand, received 265 reports through the Indian grievance mechanism and responded to all of them. In 181 of these 265 reports, the company provided tools to help Indian users resolve their issues.

“Account has been hacked,” “Bullying or Harassment,” “Fake profile that’s pretending to be me,” “Inappropriate or Abusive Content,” “Lost access to a page or group I used to run,” and so on were among the several categories of reports received by Facebook and Instagram India.

The top complaint highlighted by Indian users was ‘account has been hacked,’ which received 474 and 77 reports, respectively, on Facebook and Instagram.

Food for Thought

Surprisingly, the number of harmful content removed by Facebook is much higher than the content removed by Google. The search giant removed 526,866 and 576,892 pieces of content using automated detection processes in India in June and July 2021, respectively.

Due to the increasing adoption of smartphones and the Internet, people are spending more time on social media apps, particularly during the Covid-19 lockdown. Combating the growing number of hackers, and other malicious users have become a constant uphill battle for all social media platforms. Facebook, which has 320 million users in India, has been fighting against harmful content promoting misinformation for a quite long time now. Between March and October 2020, the social media giant had removed over 12 million coronavirus-related misinformation posts. This will likely continue in the near future.


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